You know that an analysis of modern politics is careening toward "false equivalence" territory when it says that "extremists of the right and left" are, in their symmetrical and indistinguishable way, messing things up for the rest of us.
I've kept looking for a particular data-point that would substantiate the idea that today's dysfunction really is symmetrical: the moment when "extremists on the right" would crack down on one of their own for rigid and inflexible views. There have been inklings: for instance, Newt Gingrich's line early in the campaign that "right-wing social engineering" via the Ryan Budget was as bad as the left-wing kind; also, numerous Republicans' attempts to distance themselves from pure birtherism. Or the general GOP admission that Sarah Palin was perhaps not the best possible choice for VP. Jon Huntsman's "call me crazy" Tweets and comments don't quite count, since the more such things he said, the less he seemed connected to the party itself. A similar "he's not really speaking for the party" discount must be applied to Ron Paul's consistent and admirable critique of neocon warmongering.
But now there is an illustration! The Wall Street Journal's own editorial page -- the heart of the heart of the brain of the movement -- has cautioned a freshman Republican Congressman about the know-nothingness exemplified by his attempt to gut a crucial part of Census Bureau surveys.
You also have to admire and love the way the Journal couched the point, emphasis added:
Every now and then the GOP does something that feeds the otherwise false narrative of political extremism....
Since the political class is attempting to define the GOP as insane and redefine "moderation" as anything President Obama favors, Republicans do themselves no favors by targeting a useful government purpose.[!!!]
Artfully put. Still, good for the Journal in speaking up on behalf of actual knowledge, which a government agency happens to produce. Plus, among the good items on the WSJ editorial section yesterday:
- Reprinting a properly astringent Forbes item by Rich Karlgaard (who fwiw is an experienced Cirrus SR22 pilot) on the decline of America as displayed by the Facebook IPO. Eg, as point #3 of 7:
3. Facebook left nothing for the common investor. The insider pig pile of PE firms and celebrity Silicon Valley angels took it all...When Microsoft when public in 1986, its market value was $780 million. Microsoft's market value would rise more than 700 times in the next 13 years. Bill Gates made millionaires of thousands of ordinary public investors. When Google went public in 2004 at a $23 billion valuation, it left less on the table for you and me. Still, if you had invested in Google then and held your stock, you would be sitting atop a 9x return. Zuckerberg and his Facebook friends took it all.
- Bonus point, also from yesterday's WSJ: an editorial that is the strongest evidence yet that Chief Justice John Roberts is feeling the heat and suspecting that he will be cast as the modern Roger Taney (right -- look it up) if, after what he did with Citizens United, he overrules the health-care law. The evidence is the editorialists' entreaties that Roberts pay no attention, none at all!, to accusations "that if the Court overturns any of the law, he'll forever be defined as a partisan 'activist.'"